by David Herman
The week of May 5-11, has been designated nationally as Emergency Preparedness Week since 1996. EP Week encourages Canadians to take three simple steps to become better prepared to face a range of emergencies: 1) Know your risks, 2) Make a Plan, and 3) Make or buy an emergency Kit.
I would recommend that you include your children in completing the three steps. They may identify risks that, from their perspective, you would not think of. It allows them to have ownership of the plan and the overall idea of emergency preparedness. And, by being involved in the preparation, they get to have their questions answered as the plan is built, and so they should come out of the exercise with a good understanding and appreciation of what is being done for the safety of their family.
The federal government has a very comprehensive website that will guide you every step of the way. The links for this site are: www.getprepared.gc.ca/cnt/rsrcs/ep-wk/tlkt-en.aspx (English), and www.getprepared.gc.ca/cnt/rsrcs/ep-wk/tlkt-fr.aspx (French).
Everyone has a role to play in being prepared for an emergency, and building awareness is a great first step, so let’s look at the three steps. In Ontario, a listing of risks may include: earthquakes (Buckingham PQ, just 56 KMs from Ottawa, saw the most powerful in 65 years in 2010, but there are approximately 5,000 earthquakes recorded in Canada each year); floods (all around us at this time of year); chemical releases(ammonia leaks, if near an arena); pandemic influenza (remember SARS); power outages (think The Ice Storm of ’98); tornadoes (Eastern Ontario and Western Quebec in 2018); and wildfires (bans on grass fires during the spring have helped here, but we have a lot of forest all around us).
Not on this list, but important to note, is extreme heat or cold. We have both at certain times of year. This list is not meant to be comprehensive, but it will give you a place to start thinking about potential risks. I am not trying to scare people, but to inform them of potential risks that do exist in our quiet little piece of Ontario.
Now that you have identified the potential risks in your area, I would suggest discussing the possible risks and what your family can do to prepare for any eventuality. Your plan should include things such as safe exits from home or neighbourhood, meeting places, contact persons, health insurance information, and, if applicable, places for your pet to stay. The web page will guide you through it.
The last step is to put together, or purchase, an emergency preparedness kit. This should be enough to sustain you and your family for at least 72 hours. The web page provides a list of basic requirements, as well as suggested additional supplies. If you prefer to buy a kit already made up, you can get them through the Canadian Red Cross and also online from the Salvation Army.
I hope that, during Emergency Preparedness Week, you will take the time to complete the three steps, so that your family is ready should an emergency event make the plan and kit necessary. When, and if, such an event does impact your family, you will thank yourself that you have been proactive.